Sleepless in Singapore #2

Something was biting me. Not my husband. It came back and bit me twice on the leg and then I was awake and realising that the fan was too high so I turned it down and then off, but then I was too hot so I put on the air con but that was freezing so I pulled up the covers and settled back down but then the Thing bit me again.

So I came downstairs and got my run stuff together but then the thunder boomed and it started proper raining. As it turned out a cousin was online and so was my sister and various FBers, all tapping messages out across the ocean, and that was nice. I feel more connected at night thanks to the timezone thing. I might try and get bitten more often.

Bak 2 skul

Lately I’ve been lining up the soft toys on the sofa and talking to them about culture and identity. They listen attentively, sometimes putting up a paw to ask a question that I answer in a flash, eloquently and easily. Sometimes I’ll use the eight-year-old Himself, telling him all I know about Southeast Asian symbolism, about the use of design and motifs in Chinese art, the passage of trade from ancient China down the Straits of Malacca and the difference between Jawa and Chitti Peranakans. By this coming Tuesday I will be able to tell him all I know about Buddhism. Sometimes he escapes through the patio doors and then I bring back the stuffed toys and continue on. Sometimes I just talk to myself.

On early morning jogs I discuss heritage with the cracks in the pavement, on the bus into town I have heated debates with my reflection in the window about exactly who lived in the place we now call Singapore before the traders all piled in (I mean the olden day traders, although we could translate this topic to current events). I can’t go past a picture in someone’s house without imagining how I would tell everyone in the room all about it, though I haven’t yet caught myself doing that out loud.

Such is life as a trainee ‘docent’ (museum guide), where every waking minute is infused with thoughts on how I might show someone around a museum, tell someone a story. Every Tuesday and Friday I can be found in the lecture halls at either the Peranakan or Asian Civilisation Museum, chewing a pencil and putting up my hand to out-clever the person next to me. I have been brave with a capital B. I did my first talk on the word ‘Phoenix’ and didn’t stutter once (albeit in front of only eight people, but still), and I did such great background research that when they sprung on us the fact that the talk would be ‘in situ’, I had already visited that very ‘situ’ the day before, thankyouverymuch, so I did all my pointing and nodding like a professional and really looked the part, or so they told me. Take that, tour group leaders. Yeah, I’m on it.

It’s bloomin’ hard work though. There’s chapters to read, tours to go on, notes to transcribe, talks to prepare and give (gulp), and those talks will get longer and longer, building up to an hour long by the time we hit Christmas, apparently. Plus there’s the simple business of getting my brain to look and listen like it hasn’t looked and listened in a very long time. The skills I’m absorbing on this three-month course will one day be turned into talks that I will give to fascinated tourists as they follow my elegant figure through the gallery rooms, listening with respect as I recount such interesting tales that they line up at the end for more, writing in the visitors book: she was AMAZING.

That’s what they tell me, anyway. Watch this [exhibition] space.

Trouble at mill

According to Urban Dictionary: Archaic term originating in the industrial North of England, similar in meaning to the “sh## hit the fan”.

When there is trouble at my own mill back in the UK my updates slow down, which is silly isn’t it, because I’m real, not fake, and I can’t just post about all the wonderful!, super!, great! stuff. So I don’t want to leave this diary hanging because if I did that, there’d be a huge gap that wouldn’t make sense. And I do get on with things quite nicely out here, but the ‘stuff’ is home stuff, family stuff and doesn’t translate: it is simply Not For Here. So where do I put it?

I suppose this is the thing: the at home stuff is for that side of the world and the out here stuff is for here. If something is relevant I’ll trot it out; if it isn’t there’ll be a blip. So if you’ve stopped by at this point it won’t have been via a self-important FB link or Tweet, you’ll just have wandered along, and thanks for that – more Singapore tales coming up once the mill is up and running again.

Good old Mr PartlyCloudy, as always the focus of all things ‘Home’, emotional barometer and sounding board. I do wish he got a salary for it.

Sleepless in Singapore

SmallMonkey is in our bed after a bad dream. ‘…and then Stanley got into the car with me, and…’ ‘Who is Stanley?’ ‘Oh, he’s my pillow.’ Very nearly that, or some such nonsense, anyway, enough to properly wake my brain up (apparently it was Steve from Minecraft and Jake from Adventuretime).

Ours is not a huge bed by western standards and SM, while slender, is not the little bean he once was and the temperature in that room is 29C on a good night (unless you are in direct line of the floor-standing fan) and there just isn’t the room, any more, for the chance of sleep à trois, and so it is that I am now downstairs while the two boys are upstairs. Plus it’s raining loudly. So I’m sleepless.

On Facebook people are posting away in the UK. It’s 9pm their time, 4am mine. I could go for a run but, yes, it’s raining, and in any case last time I went for a run in the proper dark I had that stupid fall. My knee scars are now a nice nut-brown colour but I don’t want any more. Three hours until daylight. Pom pom pom. What about fiddling about with WordPress, or writing up the First Aid notes from that brilliant course here at the condo (thanks Jess), or tackling that stupid book again (haven’t gone into the cage and prodded it for ages, wonder if it’s still breathing?).

What about tiptoeing into the spare room and turfing out some of those mad old books like I keep promising? Don’t even need to tiptoe because everyone’s upstairs. Or I could fish around for flights for the next trip away. Nothing confirmed yet, though, no point.

Hot milk? One of my sleepy teas? Cheeky Baileys? Diet.

Of course, in condos it's never really completely dark

Actually, in condos it’s never really completely dark

In Singapore the car parks have little lights over spaces – green for vacant, red for occupied. I know you get a green light on some social networking sites and chat pages but I wish my Mac had something more advanced, where if you saw that green light you could have a cup of coffee with the person, share a late-night layer from the choc box in the fridge. Eat the toffee ones together. Am on that stupid diet though.

I might read, actually, I’m starting a course next week and it comes with a list, but I’ve been putting that off because it means I’ll have to start thinking about how much work it’ll be and we can’t have that, not in the middle of the night.

WordPress fiddling, then, and a cup of tea, then a run. Plan.

Is anyone out there?